Thanks to the trailers and promotional materials for Spider-Man: No Way Home, the cat is officially out of the bag that Willem Dafoe and other villains from past iterations of the Peter Park character are coming back to square off against Tom Holland’s web-slinger.
While Doc Ock, The Lizard, Sandman and Electro are all perfectly fine bad guys from their respective appearances, one could make the reasonable case that Willem Dafoe is the ultimate foe (pun intended) to cross Parker’s path, no matter what the universe. One could also argue that has a lot to do with the expert actor’s commitment to not just the character, but going whole hog on any role he takes on.
For example, speaking in an electronic-press-kit interview from Sony Pictures that was shared by Mulderville, the actor noted that he would only reprise his role as Norman Osbourne, better known as The Green Goblin, if he was allowed to do his own stunts. Willem Dafoe explained that he told director Jon Watts and producer Amy Pascal that he didn’t just want to do a cameo, filling in for close-ups while another actor took over for action scenes. He noted that getting in there and doing the physical stuff is what’s fun for him in a movie. In a very old-school acting way, he said that he feels he wouldn’t earn the role of Green Goblin if he didn’t do those acting scenes and connect to Holland through them.
This is in keeping with the actor’s straight-up professional mindset from the past. In 2002, when he became an entire generation of Spider-Man fans’ resident boogeyman, Willem Dafoe was dedicated enough to the role that he insisted on doing his own stunts at age 47. Now, in 2021, he’s made the same commitment at age 66 and the movie is far better off for it.
Fortunately, Willem Dafoe made the call to return in every facet of the Green Goblin character before the script was written. As a result, they were able to write in some tweaks to his armor that allows him to portray the villain without hiding behind a mask like he did in the first movie back in 2002. That’s why teaser trailers for Spider-Man: No Way Home show him in a more comic’s accurate getup with a few more deadly-looking adjustments.
As IGN notes, Willem Dafoe explained that the new costume, in addition to showing more of him, also helps establish some of the character’s new motivations when fans pick up with him somehow still alive after almost two decades. Speaking at a recent Villains panel featuring Jamie Foxx and Alfred Molina, the actor indicated that Norman Osbourne and the Green Goblin’s dichotomy has shifted. They’ve gotten “further down the line” with each other and “have a few more tricks up their sleeve.” So, if you thought that the version of the villain that Tobey Maguire fought in 2002 was vicious, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Goblin may be in for even more of a knuckledragger with the villain. Fans will just have to head to the theater to check out Spider-Man: No Way Home to see how Willem Dafoe’s decision to do his own stunts plays out.